The New York Giants set their 53-man roster on Saturday. That is, of course, pending any waiver transactions prior to their season-opening game vs. the Detroit Lions. Here are some of my thoughts on what the Giants did.
First, how did I do in projecting the final roster? Let's look.
Yours truly nailed 49 of the 53 players on the final 53. The backup offensive line situation flummoxed me when I made the projection, and it was my biggest mis-judgment. I had the Giants keeping nine. They kept 10, with James Brewer and Dallas Reynolds both making the final after not being part of my projection. Offensive tackle Rogers Gaines ended up waived/injured. If not for whatever his injury was I still believe Gaines would have been one of the 10. I had the Giants keeping four tight ends and I should have known better. They dropped veteran Kellen Davis. I correctly had the Giants keeping five defensive ends, but they surprised me by keeping rookie Kerry Wynn over veteran Israel Idonije.
In case you have not seen it elsewhere I loved Coughlin's answer when discussing what it is like for him to have to tell more than 20 players they are not making the team.
"Even on a day like this where I have to let people go, when I see what the game means to certain players and when I see that, then I think there's hope, to be honest with you. I do," Coughlin said. "Not just hope here, hope for everybody in this world because we're not going through the motions. They love it. They love what they're doing, they love the game. That's how it all starts. For the normal young person that comes along and plays this game, it started with the love of the game. You compete, it's about competitors. It's still about competitors and people who are determined to be the best that they can be at what they do. That's what reinforces me."
The decision to keep only two quarterbacks and to keep both Preston Parker and undrafted free agent Corey Washington as backups at wide receiver seemed obvious.
"Ryan Nassib made big strides," Coughlin said. "I think that his third and fourth preseason games were outstanding. You see definite improvement. You see the work that he's put in. He's been a very good student and he's applied that to the field. What I really liked is he did have a poor preseason game and he came back with two good ones. That showed me, he didn't do it by talking, he did it by working."
Parker will open the season as the Giants' punt returner. He averaged 7.5 yards per return on 10 preseason returns.
"Preston's been around a little bit," Coughlin said. "Preston also has the punt return/kickoff return ability. Right now that's very critical for us, because Odell Beckham was going to be the punt returner."
Washington, of course, was a star during the preseason with four touchdown catches. He comes to the NFL via Division II Newberry College and after being signed and cut by the Arizona Cardinals.
"They're great stories and that's what this thing is all about," Coughlin said. "Your needs are much deeper than seven picks in the draft or sometimes you're not in position to help yourself in free agency because of the cap, so this is still the source. And when a young guy comes along and they look like they've got a high end, you're excited about it. Especially when they work hard, they study hard, it's important to them and they have great desire. You can see it on some of these kids' faces that this means so much to them, and quite frankly it re-energizes me."
The cruel irony, of course, is that Saturday's 'final' 53 most likely isn't final at all. The Giants, like all NFL teams, will be scouring the waiver wire for players dropped on Saturday by other teams who might be able to help them.
NFL.com has the complete list of players cut on Saturday. SB Nation offers a look at some of the biggest names cut on Saturday, including running back Lache Seastrunk and defensive end Michael Sam.
By now, you know the positions the Giants are likely looking to upgrade. Tight end, perhaps a veteran offensive lineman if one they like is available, maybe a running back since they kept only three. Remember also that NFL teams often don't bring in veteran players until after Week 1. That way the players salary is not guaranteed for the full season.
What players currently available do you believe can help the Giants?
[NOTE: My thanks to 'Raptor' for handling Saturday's cutdown day. Yours truly was traveling Friday and Saturday to watch my son, a goalkeeper, play in his first college soccer tournament. Enjoyed the thrill on Saturday of watching him get his first collegiate start.]